The Cairo Court for Urgent Matters postponed Sunday the trial of Palestinian movement Hamas to 28 February, in a process of merging two separate cases.
The court will decide whether to designate the ruling movement of Gaza as a “terrorist organisation” on the basis of legal files submitted by lawyers Samir Sabry and Ashraf Said Ibrahim. The two lawyers maintain that the group is responsible for a set of killings of Egyptian security forces personnel.
On Saturday, Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri struck out against a campaign of “incitement and deception” in Egyptian media against the Palestinians of Gaza. In comments published by the Palestinian news agency Ma’an, Abu Zuhri said there was a “Zionist-like” operation ongoing in Egyptian media to stoke division between Gazans and Egyptians.
Hamas interior ministry spokesman Iyad Al-Buzm also took aim at what he called “attempts [in the media] to accuse the Gaza Strip of [culpability in] the ongoing events in Egypt”.
On Saturday, a report in Egypt’s state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram claimed that Hamas was working in coordination with the Muslim Brotherhood in an attempt to overthrow the state within “three-five years”.
The leading Egyptian daily quoted “informed sources” who accused Hamas’s military wing of working with the outlawed Egyptian Islamist movement in conspiring to attack public and military facilities, including the Suez Canal. The newspaper quoted the sources as saying the footage would be published to lower national morale, in the manner of recent militant attacks in Sinai.
Hamas was an ally of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s regime levelling charges against the group of instigating terrorist activities and disturbances in Egypt.
An Egyptian court previously designated the Hamas movement’s military wing Al-Qassam Brigades a terrorist group on 31 January, based on “participating in terrorist operations” and recent violence in North Sinai.
The lawsuit argued that the Al-Qassam Brigades used the smuggling tunnels connecting Egypt and the Gaza Strip to enter the country. It added that these tunnels were used “to finance its terrorist operations, smuggling weapons to attack police and army personnel, as well as terrorising civilians”.
Following a large attack on Egyptian security forces by militant group “State of Sinai”, Al-Sisi called for a buffer zone between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Al-Sisi also called for the destruction of the tunnels that circumvented the borders between the two territories.
Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood have both denied connections to the insurgency of “State of Sinai”, but Egypt has continued to sanction both groups on the basis of presumed links.
In March 2014, an Egyptian court banned the activities of Hamas inside Egypt and confiscated the group’s offices. Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar previously told Daily News Egypt that none of Hamas’s members are currently located in Egypt.
On Sunday, international Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat reported Nabil El-Araby, Secretary General of the Arab League, stating that he refused to consider the Al-Qassam Brigades a terrorist group. El-Araby, interviewed on the sidelines of the Washington ‘Countering Violent Extremism’ summit led by the White House, added that the international community should not get confused between resistance and terrorism.